Boron Citrate – An Overview
Boron is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in a number of biological processes.
Humans, as well as animals and plants, require boron to grow. There is evidence that it may also have nootropic benefits for:
- Brain Fog
- Cognitive enhancement
- Memory and learning
Low levels of boron are related to poor immune function, increased risk of mortality, osteoporosis, and cognitive deterioration.
Research continues to show the importance of maintaining proper levels of the often-overlooked nutrient.
Fortunately, you can make sure you are consuming enough of this key micronutrient by taking it in the form of a boron citrate supplement.
There are physical benefits as well as mental.
In trials, animals and humans that supplemented with boron had improved bone density, embryonic development, wound healing, and cancer resistance. It may also increase testosterone and libido in males.1Khaliq H, Juming Z, Ke-Mei P. The Physiological Role of Boron on Health, Biol Trace Elem Res. 2018 2Abdelnour SA, et al. The vital roles of boron in animal health and production: A comprehensive review, J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2018
Boron’s history as a nutrient and preservative is a bit controversial.
In the 1870s, scientists discovered that Boron could be used as a food preservative as boric acid and borax.
For the next 50 years, borates were used to preserve many perishable foods.3Wiley H. Influence of food preservatives and artificial colors on digestion and health. I. Boric acid and borax, Bureau Of Chemistry, USDA. 1904
However, a few decades later, high concentrations of boron were shown to cause health issues in humans.
Despite limited evidence, boron was pulled as a food additive in most countries.
As late as 1960, the WHO listed borates as a banned preservative.4Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. Evaluation of the toxicity of a number of antimicrobials and antioxidants : sixth report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, WHO. 1961
Luckily, in the 1970s scientists began studying the use of boron in animals. They found that while too much boron can be toxic, too little can also be dangerous.
Boron started to come back in favor with nutritionists.5Hunt CD. Dietary boron modified the effects of magnesium and molybdenum on mineral metabolism in the cholecalciferol-deficient chick, Biol Trace Elem Res. 1989
Now the accepted wisdom is that proper boron intake is necessary, and it only poses a problem if you supplement in exceptionally large amounts.
What Foods Contain Boron?
- Leafy greens
- Non-citrus fruits
- Dried beans
What Does Boron Citrate Do?
Boron plays a critical role in several mental and physical processes.
Boron And Cognitive Performance
Boron citrate is vital for brain development and overall metabolism. This may give it cognitive enhancing properties as a supplement.
In one rat study, boron deprivation caused decreased high-frequency brain electrical activity and increased low-frequency activity.
Low-frequency brain activity usually means reduced mental alertness, lowered ability to perform vigilance and psychomotor tasks, and is related to impaired memory performance.
In human subjects, lack of boron resulted in poor performance on tasks of motor speed and dexterity, attention, and short-term memory.
In a series of experiments conducted with otherwise healthy adults, researchers found that about a month or two of restricted boron intake adversely affected brain function and cognitive performance.8Lara Pizzorno. Nothing Boring About Boron, Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015
Human subjects with low boron also performed poorly on tests of mental ability and awareness.9James G. Penland. The importance of boron nutrition for brain and psychological function, Biological Trace Element Research. 1998
These results point to boron citrate’s importance in maintaining proper brain health and performance.
Many anecdotal reports claim that boron supplements can reduce brain fog and mental cloudiness.
Does Boron Citrate Increase Testosterone?
Boron has a reputation as a testosterone booster among bodybuilders.
Other nootropics users may also be interested in the effects of more testosterone, even if they aren’t hitting the weight room.
So is this just locker room talk or is there data to back this up?
It turns out there IS some clinical evidence that boron may increase testosterone, although the results are mixed overall.
There are a few human trials that conclude that boron can increase plasma testosterone concentrations when taken as a supplement.10Naghii MR, Samman S. The effect of boron supplementation on its urinary excretion and selected cardiovascular risk factors in healthy male subjects, Biol Trace Elem Res. 1997
Another study found that rats that consumed boric acid had a significant increase in plasma testosterone levels after 4 weeks.11M.R.Naghii, S.Samman. The effect of boron on plasma testosterone and plasma lipids in rats, Nutrition Research. 1997
However, the jury is still not out on this. There are other trials that looked at both male and female participants, including bodybuilders, who consumed boron supplements.
These trials could not find a relationship between boron and testosterone levels.12Ferrando AA, Green NR. The effect of boron supplementation on lean body mass, plasma testosterone levels, and strength in male bodybuilders, Int J Sport Nutr. 1993 13Green NR, Ferrando AA. Plasma boron and the effects of boron supplementation in males, Environ Health Perspect. 1994 14Meacham SL, Taper LJ, Volpe SL. Effects of boron supplementation on bone mineral density and dietary, blood, and urinary calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and boron in female athletes, Environ Health Perspect. 1994
Keep in mind that none of the above studies look at large sample sizes over long periods of time.
So, we still need more research to determine if there is a connection.
Is Boron Good For Inflammation?
Boron is a potent anti-inflammatory supplement that may help prevent arthritis, improve immune response, and even potentially treat cancer.
Boron limits oxidative damage by enhancing the body’s stores of glutathione.
Glutathione is the body’s most abundant antioxidant compound. Increasing levels could reduce cellular damage and inflammation.15Ince S, et al. Protective effects of boron on cyclophosphamide induced lipid peroxidation and genotoxicity in rats, Chemosphere. 2014
This means it could alleviate symptoms of inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis.16Richard L. Travers. Boron and Arthritis: The Results of a Double-blind Pilot Study, Journal of Nutritional Medicine. 1990
Boron can help overall immune function between lymphocytes and natural “killer cells” in humans and animals.17Curtis D. Hunt. Dietary Boron: An Overview of the Evidence for Its Role in Immune Function, The Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine. 2003 18Bhasker TV, et al. Influence of boron supplementation on performance, immunity and antioxidant status of lambs fed diets with or without adequate level of calcium, PLoS One. 2017 19Kurtoglu V, Kurtoglu F, Akalin PP. The effects of various levels of boron supplementation on live weight, plasma lipid peroxidation, several biochemical and tissue antioxidant parameters of male mice**: Effects of boron on performance, antioxidant and some metabolits of mice, J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2018
There is some evidence that boron may have the ability to treat certain forms of cancer.
Several studies indicate that boron can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer, reduce the risk of prostate cancer incidence, and enhance the effectiveness of other anti-cancer agents.20Cui Y, et al. Dietary boron intake and prostate cancer risk, Oncol Rep. 2004 21Barranco WT, Eckhert CD. Boric acid inhibits human prostate cancer cell proliferation, Cancer Lett. 2004 22Barranco WT, Hudak PF, Eckhert CD. Evaluation of ecological and in vitro effects of boron on prostate cancer risk, Cancer Causes Control. 2007
There is also evidence that boron may be able to halt the proliferation of some forms of breast cancer.23Anuoluwapo Funmilola Elegbede. Boric acid inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells, UNLV Retrospective Theses & Dissertations. 2007
In fact, there are now several cutting edge cancer therapies that use targeted boron derivatives.
However, these treatments fall outside the realm of dietary boron supplements.
How Boron Citrate Works In The Brain
This essential mineral seems to have a holistic effect on the body and mind by helping regulate a few different metabolic processes.
Boron is a critical component in the synthesis of S-adenosyl methionine, otherwise known as SAM-e.
This compound is crucial in regulating other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Binds To NAD+
Boron also strongly binds oxidized nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), thus influencing reactions in which it is involved.
One role of extracellular NAD+ is binding to the plasma membrane receptor CD38, an enzyme that converts NAD+ to cyclic ADP ribose.
ADP ribosylation is a reaction that is involved in many crucial cellular processes, including cell signaling, DNA repair, and gene regulation.25Ralston NV, Hunt CD. Diadenosine phosphates and S-adenosylmethionine: novel boron binding biomolecules detected by capillary electrophoresis, Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001
Boron may also lower oxidative damage by decreasing the production of NADPH and the activity of λ-glutamyl transpeptidase.
This action could possibly increase the amount of glutathione in the body, which plays a role in protecting cells from toxic oxygen radicals. 26Hunt CD. Regulation of enzymatic activity: one possible role of dietary boron in higher animals and humans, Biol Trace Elem Res. 1998
How Much Boron Citrate Should I Take?
For nootropic purposes, you should take between 2-6 mg daily. 20 mg is considered the safe upper limit for adults.
However, you should never exceed 4,000 mg per dose, which may be associated with serious, even fatal, side effects.
Luckily, this dose is far beyond the normal range, so accidental overdose is unlikely.
Boron Citrate Potential Side Effects
In normal doses, boron is safe and should not have any side-effects. It is a naturally occurring micronutrient that your body needs to function.
However, boron overdoses may produce symptoms such as:
- Skin inflammation and peeling
- Tremors and convulsions
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Do you have questions about, supplementing with Boron Citrate? Do you have experience supplementing with Boron Citrate? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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About the author:
Erik Levi, FNTP
Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.
As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.
Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.
Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.
You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.